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Security officials examine the site of suicide bombing in a checkpoint on the outskirts of Quetta, Pakistan, on Sunday. Photo: AP

Pakistani Taliban TTP claims suicide attack on soldiers near Afghan border

  • The militant Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, which is separate from the Afghan Taliban, has recently stepped up its campaign against the army
  • Separatists have fought a low-level insurgency for decades in Balochistan, where China has invested in energy and infrastructure projects
At least four paramilitary soldiers were killed and 20 wounded in a suicide attack in the southwest of Pakistan on Sunday, officials said, part of a spike in attacks on security forces in recent weeks as neighbouring Afghanistan fell to the Taliban.

The militant Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack. The group, which is separate from the Afghan Taliban, renewed its allegiance to that group after the fall of Kabul last month and has recently stepped up its campaign against the Pakistani army.

Islamabad fears a rise in militant attacks along the Afghan-Pakistan border as the Afghan Taliban tries to fill a vacuum left by the collapse of the Western-backed administration in that country.

The attack occurred as a checkpoint security detail was being relieved, said Sheikh Rashid, Pakistan’s interior minister.

A suicide bomber on a motorcycle packed with 6kg (13 pounds) of explosives rammed a vehicle in an FC convoy, said Azhar Akram, deputy inspector general of the Quetta police. Three died immediately in the blast, with another officer dying later of his wounds, he said, adding that 17 guards and two civilians were wounded in the blast. Three are in a critical condition.

After US exit, Pakistan frets over Afghanistan security threats

A spokesman for the police’s Counter-Terrorism Department confirmed the attack.

“Condemn the TTP suicide attack on FC check post in Mastung Road, Quetta,” Prime Minister Imran Khan said in a tweet.

A senior Pakistani official said last week that Islamabad is worried about militant fighters from the Pakistani Taliban group crossing from Afghanistan and launching lethal attacks on its territory.

The Afghan Taliban have sought to reassure their neighbour that they will not allow their territory to be used by anyone planning attacks on Pakistan or any other country.

Pakistan attack targeting Chinese adds to concern over security threats

Sunday’s attack took place in Quetta, the capital of the southwestern Pakistani province of Balochistan, about 100km (60 miles) east of Afghanistan.

Separatists have fought a low-level insurgency against the Pakistan government for decades in Balochistan, where China is increasing investment in energy and infrastructure projects.

Quetta is home to around 500,000 Hazaras, who mostly live in an ethnic enclave on the edge of the city. The community has long been targeted by Islamic State and other militant Sunni groups, who see them as a heretical sect.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse